Kyle Dean Massey and Ciara Renée Are "On the Right Track" as New Leads in Broadway's Pippin

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05 May 2014

Kyle Dean Massey in Pippin
Photo by Joan Marcus

I'm really curious about being put into this show. This production is very precise and intricate. Was it a challenge to rehearse essentially on your own?
KDM: You know, it's always tricky being a replacement. I've only replaced on Broadway, so I'm so used to the process of it, but it's always a tricky thing because you're coming into an existing show where people did readings and workshops and labs and out-of-town tryouts and previews…and then you're expected to come in and just slide right in. We've been given a crash course to get us on the stage. I'm not going to lie, I still go to training every day because I'm still working on the acrobatic things. They're show-ready — we're obviously in the show and running it — but our work has just begun. We've got a lot of catch-up to do. They actually gave us five weeks [of rehearsal], which was incredibly generous. You don't usually get that, and we really needed it. She and I are just onstage almost the entire show, and we just do so many different things. I mean, Ciara's on the trapeze…
CR: I never thought in a million years that I would be learning the trapeze.

Ciara Renée and Kyle Dean Massey
photo by Joan Marcus

Did either of you have any cirque or circus experience?
KDM: No! [Laughs.] They had to teach me how to do a somersault!
CR: I could do a cartwheel. That was about it. I was totally clueless. The first time I got on the trapeze, I was [nervous]. It was a stationary one, the first time — thank the Lord. I was so bruised. I mean, I still am — the bruises aren't going to go away, but at the beginning I was like, "Ow! My back! Everything hurts!" But now I think it's so much fun, and I want to do more.
KDM: It is really fun. I really enjoy all of those elements.

What I love about this production is that the stakes are always so high. Is it nerve-wracking to perform the acrobatic stunts?
KDM: It's weird. In Act Two, once I'm on stage, I never leave the stage. I don't have that moment to go off stage and [think], "Okay, this scene is coming up." I literally will get to, "Okay I have to do a backflip now," and I'm like, "Here it comes!" There's something nice about not getting to worry about it because it just happens. You just have to do it, but, yes… There are things that I stress over, for sure.
CR: Sometimes I think the smallest things are the things I stress over though. There's this little hula-hoop [trick] I do that's super simple, and it's not really dangerous, but for some reason, I just freak out about it every night! [Laughs.] The trapeze now — I'm not afraid to fall or anything… I guess it's within the realm of possibility, but I feel like we've been trained so well, and I keep working out, trying to make myself stronger in my whole body, so I can protect myself. That's what all these [acrobats] do — they have to constantly be working, so that if something does go wrong, [they can] hopefully stop it from being a huge disaster and save themselves.
KDM: It's safe, but I know what you mean… I stress over throwing the knives…
CR: But, you're so good at them! Everyone says you're so good.
KDM: I stress about playing the guitar, actually — little things like that, where you're thinking, "No one's going to die if you mess it up."


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